March 26, 2009
The LPGA just took a small but very significant step forward in the world of sports media. Starting this season, the LPGA will officially credential bloggers at its tournaments just like any other media.
Wait, bloggers? You mean those live-in-their-mother's-basement couldn't-get-a-job-at-a-real-paper nerds? Yeah ... sort of. But that hack description of bloggers hasn't fit in three years, and credit the LPGA for recognizing the value of a new media stream. Bloggers are often able to write in greater detail, greater scope or greater humor than their old-media brethren who are limited by either advertising space or their own imagination. (And no, the fact that a blogger is telling you this has nothing at all to do with that assessment.)
Bloggers have generally terrified old-media and professional sports teams for the same reason that Elvis terrified '50's-era parents -- we don't understand it, the kids are dancing to it, therefore it must be evil. And while some teams have credentialed bloggers on a limited basis, many more have responded by sticking their heads firmly in their -- no, let's say in the sand -- and treating bloggers like cockroaches. Which always makes for good PR for the teams, as the Edmonton Oilers can tell you.
Now, while the LPGA has opened the door to a new media stream, this isn't a case where anybody who puts up a HOT CHIX GOLFIN' website will get to come in and pester Natalie Gulbis. No, the LPGA has wisely laid down the law in a series of hurdles any blogger must clear to be considered credential-worthy.
In brief, bloggers should have at least some journalistic background, the blog should have more traffic than just the blogger and his mom living upstairs, the blog needs to have original content on it, and the advertising should be appropriate (i.e. ads for "Vivid Video's Hole In One Vol. 13" probably won't work in your favor.)
What does this mean to you, the reader? Well, a broader diversity of coverage, for one thing. And sports fans who love to gripe about the media now have a chance to do it themselves and see how hard (or, really, easy) it is to cover a golf tournament. In short, it's a great opportunity, and the entire sports blogosphere ought to be thanking the LPGA, whether or not you even know your Creamers from your Ochoas.
So it'll be wonderful, until of course all us filthy bloggers get co-opted and corrupted by The Man, and a whole new batch of media revolutionaries rises up and lops off our heads. Till then, though, it's going to be a fun ride.